Sunday, July 10, 2011
Warm Up Your Fruit Smoothies With a Little Ginger
I was in Greenlife (Wholefoods) yesterday and noticed a juicing demonstration in the produce section. I know many like to juice, especially in the summer. As a vegan, lately I have been relying on fruit smoothies as a valuable source of protein: they are a convenient way to take protein powder. However, in Chinese dietary therapy, we advise against consuming cold, raw foods. So I advise adding a little ginger to warm them up. Here's why:
In Chinese medicine, the Spleen system is responsible for digestive function. The Chinese Spleen system includes other functions, including aspects of the immune system. We consider digestion a warm transformation: heat is required to break down foods into nutrients the body can absorb, and waste for excretion. Ingesting cold, raw foods weakens the Spleen because it requires it to do extra work to raise the food to a temperature suitable for its transformative function to take place.
When the Spleen is weakened, one becomes fatigued because Qi (energy) is not being manufactured from foods due to poor Spleen function. Digestive problems occur, including loose stools, low appetite, pain and nausea. Immune function is weakened: allergies, frequent colds and flu are typical signs of Spleen Qi Deficiency.
So in Chinese dietary therapy, we strongly advise against eating cold, raw foods, which means no juicing. However, as a vegan, I understand the reason for smoothies. So if you feel you absolutely must juice, do it sparingly and add something warm: garlic, cayenne pepper or ginger. Ginger works well for sweet juices and smoothies and adds a certain spicy zing. As an added benefit, ginger is a digestive aid and warms the Spleen. Try adding 3 slices.
Please do not use frozen fruit or ice in your smoothies. This only makes the drink colder, causing more damage to the delicate digestive system. KB
Photo: Flickr Jose Carlos Cortizo Perez, Creative Commons 2.0